The above question brings up a mixture of feelings and uncertainty. Does a non-alcoholic drink contain absolutely no alcohol? Usually not. So even 'non-alcoholic' beverages are likely to be prohibited by Islamic Law. However, in recent years, various 'Halal certified' non-alcoholic drinks have been under production. But even with this label, are these drinks Halal or Haram?
Does Non-Alcoholic Beer Have Intoxicating Effects?
Non-alcoholic beer can be considered halal because it does not contain enough alcohol to have 'intoxicating effects.' However, there are other factors to consider when asked, 'Is drinking non-alcoholic beer haram?' These factors include the production process, the amount of trace alcohol and whether the non-alcoholic beer has been halal certified. Consumers, scholars and communities widely debate this topic, so let's dive right in!
What is Halal or Haram?
'Halal' is an Arabic term that means 'permissible' or 'Lawful' in English. This term outlines what is permissible for Muslims to eat and drink according to Islamic Law. The opposite in the Quran is 'haram,' which translates as 'forbidden' or 'prohibited.'
'Halal' food and drink must meet specific requirements, which include:
Consumption of Meat: Meat must come from animals slaughtered in a certain way. This includes the animal being healthy, invoking the name of Allah (God) during the slaughter and cutting the throat of the animal in a certain way to ensure a human death.
Certain ingredients: Ingredients such as pork, gelatin and alcohol are prohibited in Islamic Law and cannot be consumed by Muslims.
Cross-contamination: Halal food must not come into contact with non-halal ingredients when prepped, processed or served.
Is drinking alcohol free beer haram?
Most non-alcoholic beers still contain small amounts of alcohol. This can range between 0.05% and 0.5% and results from the natural fermentation process; even if alcohol has been removed through 'de-alcoholisation,' trace amounts will remain. This would suggest that non-alcoholic beers are haram.
There are three main categories of 'low-alcohol' labels which include:
Low Alcohol (no more than 1.2% ABV)
De-alcoholised (no more than 0.5% ABV)
Alcohol-free (no more than 0.05% ABV)
As you can see, it is acceptable for all three categories to contain small amounts of alcohol, which is not permissible to consume under Islamic Law. However, if the percentage of alcohol is considered small enough to not cause 'intoxication', then it may be permitted. This is where room for debate opens up!
Often, even regular foods contain trace amounts of alcohol, which adds fuel to this topic. If foods such as kimchi contain small amounts of alcohol and can often be consumed, then why not non-alcoholic beverages?
Regular Foods Contain Minuscule Amounts of Alcohol
Many foods contain minuscule amounts of alcohol, such as very ripe bananas, fruit juices, sourdough, yoghurt and kefir, kombucha, vinegar and dressings such as soy sauce. These foods contain small amounts of alcohol as a byproduct of the natural fermentation process, similar to alcohol.
Usually, in Muslim-majority countries, the chosen thing to do would be to avoid food and drinks that contain any amount of alcohol. However, some communities may allow for the consumption of food/drinks with very low amounts of alcohol, especially when the alcohol evaporates during cooking.
Individuals must ask for guidance from their religious community members to gain clarity around this topic, as interpretations can vary. Some Muslim communities may have a strict approach, whilst others may be slightly more relaxed - this depends on the 'intent' behind consumption and the interpretation of Islamic principles. Intent is another essential factor to consider as, according to Islamic Law, Muslims are prohibited from consuming intoxicating substances; this can be interpreted through many translations of the Quran.
It could be argued that intent affects whether food and drink are classed as 'halal' or 'haram' - if a person is consuming to get drunk or intoxicated, it would be considered haram under Islamic Law. However, if a person was preparing food with vinegar containing trace amounts of alcohol, with no intention of becoming 'intoxicated', then this ingredient may be considered Halal. But what about Halal-certified products?
Can Muslims drink non-alcoholic beer if it has been certified?
Halal Certified Non-Alcoholic Beer
With increasing awareness of Halal principles in recent years, many food and beverage producers have started including Halal certification on products. If a non-alcoholic beer has been Halal certified, a recognised Islamic authority has agreed that it meets the requirements to be classified as Halal.
This may involve an Islamic authority examining the production process, whether it contains any forbidden ingredients and if there is any risk of cross-contamination. However, non-alcoholic beer is a subject that is still up for debate by many scholars (someone who holds a very high status amongst the Muslim community because of their level of study).
Some scholars would state that non-alcoholic beer is permissible because it does not contain intoxicating levels of alcohol. However, others would argue that alcohol-free beer is haram because of its production process and trace amounts of alcohol remaining.
The standards for Halal certification can vary greatly - between Islamic Scholars and the certifying bodies themselves. Therefore, even though one organisation has certified a beer, it may still be considered haram by others. An example is The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), which does not issue halal certification for beer-like beverages claiming to be "non-alcoholic". Therefore, individuals must consult their scholars or an authority figure to better understand what is and isn't classed as halal.
What about Functional, Non-Alcoholic Beers
Functional non-alcoholic beers are drinks that look and taste like alcohol, with the addition of 'functional' ingredients that serve a specific purpose. These active ingredients include vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, herbs, botanical extracts, anti-oxidants and more.
These functional ingredients have two primary purposes: increased health benefits and/or for the consumer to experience a change in their state. For example, non-alcoholic drinks such as 'Night Cap' by Three Spirit use ingredients like Ashwagandha. This adaptogenic herb has multiple health benefits, such as lowering stress and cortisol and regulating hormones.
Other brands, such as Trip (CBD infused) use ingredients such as CBD to enable consumers to change their state and feel more relaxed. Some drinks, such as 'Social Elixir' by Three Spirit do both; this blend contains green tea with the health benefits of anti-oxidants and caffeine, which increases alertness. Therefore, it has health benefits and can change someone's state.
Again, this brings us back to the question…
What is the intent of consumption?
Under Islamic Law, Muslims are prohibited from consuming intoxicating substances. As tea and coffee are usually 'permissible drinks that do not cause harm,' it seems that alcohol-free drinks that contain functional ingredients such as caffeine may be permissible to consume. Similarly, CBD-infused beverages may be permitted if they are considered 'not harmful' and no do not contain the psycho-active compound THC. However, again, both of these examples depend on the amount of trace alcohol, the process of production, whether it is Halal certified and the interpretation of individual Muslim communities.
Concluding Thoughts: Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Halal?
Yes, non-alcoholic beer can be halal, but there are multiple factors to consider when choosing an alcohol-free beer brand. These factors include the amount of trace alcohol, the production process, the risk of cross-contamination with haram substances and whether it has been halal-certified by a recognised Islamic authority. Individuals should consult with a scholar or their religious community before drinking non-alcoholic or functional non-alcoholic beers.
Here at Dry Drinker, we stock a wide range of alcohol-free beers which contain less than 0.05% ABV. You may also want to check out our range of functional beers and plant-powered brews for serotonin boost and relaxation.
Or maybe you just want to stay in the loop and follow us on Instagram @drydrinker
The above information is an accumulation of general research and should not be considered religious advice. Individuals need to consult with knowledgeable Islamic scholars or authorities regarding specific questions about halal and non-alcoholic beer. Halal certification and permissibility can vary based on individual interpretations of Islamic teachings and the practices of different Islamic schools of thought. The inclusion of terms such as "halal" or "non-alcoholic" on a product does not guarantee universal acceptance within the diverse Muslim community. Consumers are encouraged to verify the halal status of products through reliable and recognised halal certification authorities to make informed choices.